Friday, April 11, 2014

Larry Livermore-Spy Rock Memories; Don Giovanni Records, 2013

It seems fitting to Disaster Amnesiac that I would find a copy of Larry Livermore's great autobiographical work, Spy Rock Memories, at the Goodwill in El Cerrito. One could walk over to Gilman St. Project, a place that Livermore had a huge hand in developing, from there within an hour or so.
That said, the SF Bay area plays a supporting role, almost that of a foil, really, for Livermore's compelling and emotive reminiscence of his time spent in Laytonville area of Mendocino County: Iron Peak, Spy Rock, and the town of Laytonville itself are the places in which Livermore's memories were lived.
Along with telling the fascinating, and, I'm sure, for most Bay Area residents, obscure stories of life in rural Northern California, so very different from that of the Bay, it's really the way in which Larry goes about telling that story that makes this book so compelling. Written in a frank style, in which he gives plenty of space for naked self reflection and self revelation, Spy Rock Memories really lets the reader in on Livermore's amazingly rich life, both the more readily apparent ups (massive success as an independent label owner, foremost), and the more seemingly ignominious downs (deep senses of self doubt and self-sabotage at the fore here). The reader really gets to know a flesh and blood person here, and the book is really great, just for that fact.
Add in the recounting of all manner of Nor Cal history that Livermore was pretty much an early first hand witness to, such as early SF Punk Rock and Hardcore, the previously mentioned nascent Gilman St. Project, Judi Barri and Earth First!, the shockingly brutal methods of the 1980's era of the War on Drugs (CAMP: as if the Vietnam Conflict had been moved wholesale to the "Emerald Triangle"), and his Gonzo Journalist activities by way of his Lookout magazine, and it all adds up to a great, quick, and really fun read.
Do seek this one out, you will not be disappointed. 

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